Spring FAVORITES + Summer GOALS

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It is officially summer! As many of you know, I'm not exactly a summer girl. I strongly prefer the air-conditioned indoors to any outdoors adventure. But even as a self-proclaimed "inside girl," there's still something hopeful and magical about the season. It seems like there's more time, more freedom, and overall more excitement, don't you think? So as I sit at my desk in a cool 68 degrees, I hereby proclaim this season one I'm going to love. Cheers to summer 2016!

Before I get into the summer goals, let's first say a quick good-bye to spring.

YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

+  3 ways to face your fears

+  this artsy DIY brushstroke mani

+  8 sites to shop for unexpected wedding dresses

+  tips for gaining more self-knowledge

+  trying to just keep swimming

+  a "get creative" wishlist and playlist

+  the power of acknowledging the feelings of others

+  my favorite: this #bts look at our HOWL runway collection

 

THIS SPRING

I feel like I started back in March with a lot of personal goals, and then those quickly got pushed aside as my life got consumed with working on HOWL for the Alternative Fashion Week show. But, at the same time, I DESIGNED A COLLECTION FOR ALTERNATIVE FASHION WEEK! That's been a dream of mine for years. In fact I even wrote an AFW recap post for the Alternative Fashion Mob Blog two years back. Who knew at the time I was foreshadowing things to come?

I also jump-started another longtime goal by launching my personal brand, HOWL. I still have major work to do- shooting the spring line, launching a site, etc.- but as of this current second, I'm trying to just appreciate the fact that I've not only taken the first step but, frankly, I've taken a massive leap. As for all the other life things I've been neglecting lately in favor of brand obsession, well, hey, that's what the summer is for, right? Relaxing, refueling, and catching up.

 

SUMMER GOALS

+  rock THE COLUMBUS BOOK PROJECT photo shoot (more on this soon)

+  make some major home decorating progress

+  continue promoting and developing HOWL

+  bite the bullet on some sort of wedding plans

+  update the Free Wills Studio website

+  celebrate Columbus by finally taking a waterfall hike, seeing a classic movie at the Ohio Theatre, having a family day at COSI, and taking advantage of how much vintage shopping can be done around town

 

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What things are you looking forward to doing this summer?

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Our Happiness Project // Tip #4: Acknowledging the Reality of People's Feelings

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Zach and I have been working through chapter four of Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, which is essentially about parenting. Since we don't have kids I wasn't sure going into it how it would translate to our lives. Happily, I've noticed that the advice in the chapter, while especially useful for parents, is really more about families and loved ones and is applicable for all relationships.

One thing that really struck me, and it's something I've been personally working on for a while, is the importance of acknowledging the reality of other people's feelings. It seems like a simple enough concept, but it's much harder to actually apply to real-life situations. Think about it for a minute, how do you respond when someone shares feelings like anger, fear or shame? Do you dismiss them with suggestions like, "Oh, don't be silly, of course they like you," or, "You always try to get out of plans. Just go and you'll end up having fun"?

I'd love to say I avoid these pitfalls, but the truth is I'm often dismissive and corrective when I'm faced with an emotional scenario. It's with good intentions. I usually start out being understanding, but then the temptation to fix creeps in and takes over. I'm a researcher, a studier, a self-improvement junkie, and it can be almost painful not to offer my own suggestions regarding other people's feelings.

This chapter shed light on something I've been learning more and more as I get older, that this form of "help," while coming from a good place, can actually feel disrespectful to the person on the other end of the conversation. It's important for me to realize that it's not my place to judge, fix, or dismiss someone's feelings. As Rubin notes, experts agree that denying bad feelings intensifies them, while acknowledging bad feelings allows good feelings to return. The simple act of listening to someone's feelings and acknowledging them shows that you appreciate their point of view. This is often enough in itself to bring peace to bad feelings.

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My oldest friend (since Kindergarten) is a true living example of this, and thus, she is my favorite person to go to when I did to get the feelings out. Zach and I, many years back, had a period of about six months where we broken up. And to me, this meant done forever and I was devastated. I felt like I had no control over the situation or myself. I called my friend sobbing and she just said, "I know it hurts so much. It feels like you can't breathe. This is going to be really painful for a long time until you're through it." Now, that might not necessarily sound uplifting, but as I was floundering in a sea of, "You just have to get back out there," or, "I never thought he was right for you anyway," or any of the other one million well-intentioned-though-very-unhelpful anecdotes I heard during this time, this simple acknowledgement of, "Yeah, that sucks." felt like I was being thrown a life preserver. I felt understood and supported and, most of all, I felt like I was free from the pressure to feel happy anytime soon and she would be just fine with that. That was the real gift.

I'm definitely not as good as she is when it comes to this, but I'm working on it. For me, it's easy to be understanding in the midst of some overwhelming, traumatic feelings. It's harder when it's the everyday small things. It can be a challenge not to offer up a bright side to a colleague's gripe or suggest ways to cheer up to a friend in a funk. It can be a struggle not to want to fix the feelings of others.

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If you can recognize any of these dismissive behaviors in yourself, here are a few approaches from the chapter that I think are helpful in trying to be more understanding when someone is reaching out for emotional support.


  1. Don't disagree with someone's feelings. I would like to make the argument that telling someone about our bad feelings is something that no one really wants to do. It's hard to be that vulnerable. So if someone is sharing their vulnerability with you, try to respond without being dismissive ("It's not that big of a deal"), judgmental ("I think you're over-reacting"), or trying to fix the feelings ("You'll feel better in no time"). These reactions can cause the person who is having the emotion to feel defensive, like no one is hearing them. Even if you don't necessarily agree with them, you could say something to the effect of, "Yeah, I can see that that frustrated you." As Rubin notes in the book, when talking with children it can be as simple as not using the terms "no" or "stop," changing a response from, "No, not until after lunch," to, "Yes, as soon as we're done with lunch." The simple switch from negative to positive can help them feel heard.
  2. Admit that something is difficult. Like my story of my friend above, when I was hurting, I really needed someone to acknowledge that it was, I guess, normal or acceptable to be that upset. We need our feelings validated. A simple statement like, "Wow, that does sound stressful," can be music to the ears of someone feeling overwhelmed at work. While on the other hand, saying something that seems helpful like, "Don't stress. It'll be easy for you," can do the opposite by adding pressure to perform quickly and calmly amidst what feels like chaos.
  3. Don't feel like you have to say anything at all. Silence, especially in the face of emotional hardship, can be a real blessing.  Zach's pretty minimal when it comes to his daily word usage, so for this he is a perfect example. Whenever I'm really struggling, I'll often unload all of whatever I'm stressing about onto him to which he almost always says something super simple to the effect of, "Sorry you're dealing with that," and then hugs me or just kind of stays around me. I've realized over the years that a lot of times, that was all I needed- to be heard and supported- and then I'm fine. I didn't need advice or I would have asked for it. I didn't need him to weigh in on anything. I just simply needed heard. So sometimes if you don't know what to say, just go with that. Offer a hug, offer your company, whatever. Simply being there is a highly underestimated quality.

 

Do you agree that having your bad feelings acknowledged helps you to feel better?

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Our Happiness Project // Tip #2: How to Stop Nagging

If you're a regular reader, you know now that Zach and I have been working through The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Chapter One was great for us as we worked on adding more routine into our lives and began tackling things that were weighing on us. Chapter Two is all about relationships and focuses on topics like fighting right, showing proofs of love, and, the one I felt I most needed to work on, quitting nagging.

Zach is a really wonderful partner. He's masculine but also very sensitive and romantic, a combination I know not to take for granted. He never judges me or asks me to change. He never sets expectations for me to live up to or thinks I should look or behave a certain way. This list is what matters most to me and why I know he's my perfect match. On the other hand there is another list of things he does that are a lot less perfect, such as not noticing messes around him and not doing any housework unless prompted, often many times. That list is obviously less important, but it can make managing a household with him incredibly frustrating, hence my transformation into the nag I never thought I would become. When he was sweeping me off my feet in the first few years, I never imagined having a full-on crying fight about the still unclean bathroom, but it has happened more than I'm proud to admit.

So what's one to do? Well, according to the book, on some degree, I should let it go. I should stop nagging, stop making demands, stop being let down when my expectations aren't met. After all, Zach doesn't do that to me, and that's one of my favorite things about him. To stop nagging is much easier said than done, though, isn't it? It's something I am most definitely not going to win at every single day, but I can try. If this is a topic that's been on your mind, too, I'm sharing a few tips from the book to help to ease up in the name of love.

 

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  • Find ways to suggest tasks without talking. When you think of nagging, you picture a shrill, annoying voice, am I right? And let's be honest, no one wants to deal with that. If you can find ways to communicate that involve less talking, or even no talking at all, the prompt is often better received. Rubin gives an example that she leaves mail that needs to be dropped off on the ground by the front door. Since her husband knows the system, he just picks it up and goes. No nagging, no problem. Zach usually takes out the trash for us, but he often lets it pile up for longer than I would like. By simply saying, "Trash!" as he's on his way out the door, it gets taken out and everyone is left unscathed.
  • Realize that tasks don't need to be done on your agenda. Just because I think the kitchen needs cleaned now doesn't mean Zach feels like sharing in the work right now. If he's agreeing to split the responsibilities, sometimes I need to accept that in whatever time frame it's going to happen. The same goes for how exactly a task gets done. For instance, I think cleaning the toilet involves making the entire thing sparkle, but Zach thinks it means cleaning the bowl and calling it a day. It's like this on a lot of tasks because he (and, frankly a lot of people) are not as obsessed with details as I am. If he's going to clean the toilet bowl, I need to take that as it is and not gripe to him that there's still dust on the tank lid.
  • Take responsibility for your own expectations. This one can be more simply summed up as, if you want something done, do it yourself. I knew about Zach's aversion to cleaning before we even started dating, so is it really fair to expect him to get up on Saturday morning and immediately start scrubbing? No, not really. He needs to help because we are a partnership, but as long as he's helping, anything more than that is my own responsibility. When we moved in, I hung his shirts in order by color and sleeve length. I then explained the system to him so he could maintain it himself and he literally laughed out loud. "You can't really expect me to keep my shirts color-coded," he said. And you know what? I can't. It makes me happy for the closet to be like that but he could care less. So I take it upon myself to hang up his shirts. I don't mind it, the closet stays neat, and at the end of the day we are all fine.

And because all of this talk about cleaning makes it sound like Zach doesn't carry his weight, I feel like I should take a moment to explain that he deals with a lot of the more horrifying aspects of our life, like the time there was a dead mouse in our kitchen and I hid until it was over. He also pumps our gas because I don't like to do it and he cooks at least half of the time. My point in all of this is not to point out his flaws but to give examples on picking your battles.

After all, I've started being more aware of nagging and trying to do it less of it, and I've had some interesting realizations. First of all, absolutely nothing is worse. Our household hasn't crumbled without me being on top of his every undone chore. A lot of it is the same. He is, after all, not going to become a completely different person, and I wouldn't even want that. And, most importantly, some things have really improved. We've both been overall much happier. He's even gotten up early and cleaned on a few occasions without prompting.

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What's your take on this topic? Is "stop nagging" a pipe dream or the path to romantic bliss?

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3 Ways to Face Fears and Start Living Your Dreams

Last week my sister, Brooke, used her super-human wizarding skills to win free tickets to see X Ambassadors. (Seriously, you guys, she wins concert tickets all the time. It's a pretty weird and awesome skill.) Lucky for me, I got to reap the benefits of her dark magic and tag along. While I was watching the concert, I was so inspired by the performances that I just had to share.

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The opening act was Seinabo Sey and she killed it. If you are unfamiliar with her, I totally recommend checking out this video. She's got pipes like Adele but paired with an edgier sound. What really struck me about her was her unapologetically simple performance. She wore a long dark coat that essentially hid her entire body and literally just stood and sang. No dance moves or glittery crop tops or fancy light shows. She was just like I wrote these songs and I'm going to sing the daylights out of them and you're welcome.

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Then X Ambassadors came out and gave an equally strong, yet totally different performance. The lead singer was throwing guitars and dancing all over the place and just overall had amazing stage presence. It also added to the inspiration factor that so many of their songs are about self-acceptance and defying odds. (I mean, I know you've heard Renegade 1000 times on the Jeep commercial, but have you seen the video? So inspiring.)

So anyway, I was standing there admiring how brave both of these performances were and I thought how cool it must be to be that fearless. But these people are human. I can almost guarantee that they are not 100% fearless. The difference is that they are just owning who they are and giving it their all regardless of fears. I myself have to face fears that come along with my creative career all of the time so I wanted to share some of my methods on how I deal when I'm feeling less than courageous. Hopefully these tips might help you embrace your courage if you've been feeling stuck in fear.


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1  Change Your Perspective on Fear and Failure

First off, not all fear needs to be tackled. Fear, especially in the form of an aversion to, say, alligator wrestling, is practical and keeps you safe. However, if you start to notice that you are being held back from life accomplishments because you fear things like looking foolish, being rejected, etc., then fear has become a problem. The good news is that it doesn't need to remain a problem. If you embrace fear as a challenge to conquer rather than an omen of doom, it can become a great motivator. Yes, this is easier said than done, but a simple trick is to pay attention to your language. Instead of saying, "I'm too nervous" or "I'm so scared," re-frame it in your mind as, "I'm so excited." If these phrases just made you immediately picture a caffeine-pill-induced Jessie Spano freak out, that actually works to my point. The reason "I'm so excited" can turn into "I'm so scared" is because the feelings are basically exactly the same. You have the power to control whether they take on a positive or negative tone.

While we're talking perspective, it's important to look at one's views on failure. This is a hard one for me and I've often put off starting tasks or following up on ideas because I'm not ready. Read: Everything is not perfect yet. If you are in a creative field, this simple mistake can be a career crusher because- spoiler alert- your work will likely never be perfect and it definitely won't be in the beginning. You know the saying: Strive for progress, not perfection. This video on storytelling from Ira Glass was a game-changer for me in this department.

I have had a tough time with both of these thoughts in my creative career when it comes to having a public presence. If you're a regular reader, you probably know that I'm extremely uncomfortable both with having my picture taken and public speaking. I have tried all the methods for getting better at both of these things (I even studied Communications for years), but I finally just had to face some facts: I am never going to be a perfect spokesperson. I have many talents and these two things are just not included in that list, and that needed to be okay. By accepting my shortcomings in these areas, I am freed from stress of perfection. It means those fears don't have to win. When an opportunity comes along to be on a news program or have photos taken for an editorial, I could easily say no because these things make me nervous. Instead, I have to choose to do my best, awkward and flawed as that may be, for the benefit of gaining exposure and furthering my career.

 


2  Find Your Guides

I can not say enough about the importance and value of mentors, especially when you are embarking in a more creative field, where the path may not be so clear. If you struggle with asking for help or advice, something that works for me is to realize how flattering it is to be on the receiving end of such favors. Imagine someone coming to you for guidance because they admire you as an expert in your field. It feels great, right? Keep in mind that your reaching out to a mentor might be a major boost in their day.

Secondly, find different mentors for different needs. For instance, my dad is an entrepreneur and has a life-long networking list so he's always a big help whenever I have a broad idea and need to know who to talk to or what the next step should be. I also have a few business-savvy Type A friends who are great to turn to when I need very specific guidance, such as send out X amount of networking emails this week to reach your X% desired growth rate. And then of course I have a few blogger and designer mentors that I admire to help guide and inspire me in areas that most people wouldn't be able to relate. As you can imagine, if I went to my dad for design help and my artist friend for business help, there's a chance I'm not going to get the optimal advice. It's important to know where to look for specific mentorship in order to maximize your results.

If you're like, "Okay, that all sounds good but how the heck do I even find a mentor?," this article has some great resources on getting started.

 


3  Get the Ball Rolling

There is an Elizabeth Gilbert quote that says, "All procrastination is fear." I realize that you are not shivering with fear in your bed at night because of that email you keep "forgetting" to send, but somewhere inside you, there is an apprehension. Are you afraid of getting back a rejection email? Are you worried that the recipient will think your request is ridiculous? Are you maybe just lacking the self-confidence to believe it could be well-received? Whatever the reason, it's important to do a little soul searching and get to the root of the problem if you are looking for permanent change.

That part is tricky, but the good news is that once you've addressed your fears, the act of conquering them is much simpler: you just have to do it. Simple, yes. Easy? Maybe not as much. You can make the job of tackling goals easier on yourself by breaking them into smaller, more doable chunks. For instance, if your dreams list includes, "start a blog," break it down into smaller goals like, "meet with a blogger friend for advice," or, "choose a blogging platform." The cool part about this is that once you start checking off manageable tasks, your confidence in your abilities will snowball, making it easier to face the bigger, scarier tasks on the list. From there, it's simply lather, rinse, repeat until you are clicking publish on your first post!


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(PS- If you like this little doodle, make sure you're following me on Instagram, where I share more of my creative work. Send me a message and I'll make sure to follow back. :) )

 

Do you have any fears that are holding you back? Do you think these methods work?

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Weekend Reading Vol. 13

In case you're looking for an excuse to curl up and relax for a bit, I've got you covered with my favorite links from this past week...

1  September = fashion = happiness. Get yourself ready with these 10 "up-and-comer" collections to look for at NYFW. (The Zoe Report)  |  2  I always love Justina Blakeney's designs and this kitchen is no exception- just... wow. (The Jungalow)

 

3  I would never have thought to make a DIY terrarium side table, but this is definitely intriguing... (A Beautiful Mess)  |  4  I thought this look at the evolution of magazine covers was so interesting and well-done. (Medium)

 

5  I'm loving this new video series, The Outlanders. I mean, if this doesn't epitomize "living the dream," I don't know what does. (The Design Files)

 

Plus, a few more gems...

Loving these gorgeous clutches.

And these art teacher necklaces.

The big Instagram news, in case you missed it.

Speaking of Instagram, such a cute post. What's one thing you REALLY want?

Have you heard about Goodwill's high-end boutiques?!

Love this chair that knows it's real purpose.

Dyyyying for this notebook. Sign me up!

 

What links did you love this week?

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August Goals: Just Do It

So I took a little break from setting any public blogging/business goals last month. I mean, hey, it's summer and almost every weekend in July was spent visiting family out of town or having family visiting us here, so it was a great time to go with the flow and recharge a little. But now August is in full swing and I'm back in business! I have been laying the foundation for a couple side projects and August is all about putting in major work to get these projects in position to hit the ground running this fall. I also have a whole slew of things that I never officially got done when I rebranded. I blame trying to rebrand while moving, but either way, I am ready to cross off all those to-do's!

My theme for this month is "Just Do It." Isn't that a clever slogan? I thought of it myself. Just kidding, obviously, but I do love a good throwback to all my super-fly junior high Nike tees and matching swoosh ankle socks. But slammin' tween fashion aside, the idea this month is to be acting more than thinking, making more then planning, and basically just being a no-excuse-making, no-time-wasting, productivity machine. Easy, right?

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What are your goals this month? Shout 'em, scout 'em, tell all about 'em in the comments!

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The Best is Yet to Come + My Weekly Goals

 

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You guys, I'll be real honest, I had a rough time last week. I had a handful of things come up, some great and some very upsetting. I was a complete emotional roller coaster. I felt stressed. I felt burnt out. I felt like I couldn't concentrate on anything. I had about a year's worth of crying sessions and I was exhausted every single day. So, honestly, my goals I set for last week barely even crossed my mind. And you know what? Sometimes that's going to happen and I think when you're that "off" the best thing can be to just go ahead and give yourself a pass, so I'm doing exactly that.

One of the great things that happened (thankfully!) was that I got to see my sister and two of our friends this weekend who live out-of-town. Even though I was excited to see them, I had a hard time actually wanting to go because I just could not get out of my funk. And by funk, I mean I was literally crying in the car on the drive over about things completely unrelated. But then instantly, they provided their usual hilarious magic and I snapped out of it in 0.5 seconds. Friends (and sisters) are awesome like that, aren't they?

I was thinking about something on my way home (I'm having very emotional car rides these days)- both of these girls, just a couple of years ago, were handed some of the worst luck of anyone I know. They each separately went through things that a lot of people will never have to deal with in their whole lives and neither had done anything to cause it or deserve it. And yet, here we are now, just a few years down the road, celebrating the upcoming wedding of one (to a hunky, Disney prince of a man, I might add) and the other coming from her actual dream job that she has wanted and worked towards for as long as I've known her.

So I know this is not the best story-telling, in efforts to keep some things private, but the point here is that no matter what you are going through in life, it is all momentary. You know the dozens of Tumblr quotes that are along the lines of "Darkness is needed in order to see the stars"? They're everywhere because they are so true. Every time I've been through something that I've felt like I just couldn't take, times it physically hurt to breathe, I've stumbled my way right on through it anyway and ending up growing from it. And in case you're feeling like that now, like you hurt so bad you don't know how you're going to go on, I just wanted to send this message: try and have faith that this too shall pass. Just keep trying your best and, when you can, look for any teeny tiny excuse to feel some joy or peace and really, really appreciate those moments. Even though you can't see it yet, you will heal, you will reach the other side of the pain, and one day everything will feel bright again.

Plus, you never know, that dark road might be leading the way to your dream job and a Disney prince. ;)

 

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As for my goals-setting, I'm literally not even going to look at last week's goals. I got some done, kind of on accident, and the one's that absolutely must be done are like flashing neon lights in my head. I will get to them, but as for now, I've got a pretty busy week coming up, so whenever I can I'm only focusing on two things: working on the blog (and the plans I have for it coming soon) and doing something every day just to feel happy. This may be a new book, a walk by myself, ice cream with friends, whatever. Just something that I don't "need" but at the same time really, really need right now.

What are your goals this week?

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This post is part of Weekly Wishes, a personal goal setting community where you can share your upcoming dreams and hold yourself accountable to achieve them. If you'd like to join and/or add a link to your own goal-oriented blog post, you can do so at The Nectar Collective. It’s a great way to make new friends from around the world and gain some motivation to achieve your weekly aspirations.

The Art of Conquering Fears + This Week's Goals

 

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You know that girl you went to elementary school with who never seemed afraid of anything? She would kick up to the highest point on the swing set and then just jump off, flying into the mulch? She would have a crush on a boy and, instead of acting like she hated him like everyone else, she would just make him be her boyfriend? You all knew a girl like that, right? Yeah, I've never been that girl.

I'm afraid of so many things. I hate having to speak in front of a crowd. I don't leave my doors unlocked for even a minute. And don't even get me started on being stuck on a bridge during traffic. Hello, Mothman Prophecies, anyone?

Maybe it's the number of emails my mom sent me as a teen with titles like "Top 10 Things that Make you a Target to Kidnappers" or "How to Escape When You've Been Locked in a Trunk," but I've always been very aware of perceived danger. (And by the way, I know the exact information from both of those titles, so thank you, mom, and be warned, attackers.)

But there's a big difference between things that are dangerous and things that only feel dangerous, even if our physical responses are often the exact same. And though I am plagued by a lot of unnecessary fears, I've always tried really hard not to let anything I'm afraid of have any say in my actual choices. But it's always a process. I constantly need to remind myself that some of the things that might be holding me back don't necessarily need to exist. And I know when I choose the scarier option, I always feel so much more confident at the end than by taking the safer route.

So that's my focus this week- to do a few things I've been afraid of- and I challenge you to make it yours, too!

 

What's one fear that, if you conquered it, your life would improve drastically?

And if you're not ready to start there, what is one tiny fear you could conquer this week?

(Disclaimer: please understand I'm talking about the fear that comes with asking for a raise or going on a blind date. Please don't take up sword swallowing or hitchhiking and blame it on my encouragement.)

 

And if you really want to be brave, feel free to share a fear you would like to conquer in the comments!

 

Now onto my goals! As usual, this post is part of The Nectar Collective's Weekly Wishes series. Head on over if you want to link up your own post and share your goals with the community. Now, for a recap of last week:

 

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+ Taking another stab at posting to Instagram daily and scheduling my meetups - I think I missed one day but still posted way more than usual. Keeping this on the list for this week as well.

+ Get 3 days ahead of blogging schedule (a long-awaited dream I have yet to make reality) - Yeah, no. This goal may or may not be the end of me.

+ Nail down theme, acquire wardrobe, and book venue for an upcoming shoot I’m styling - Done and done! This was a big one so I'm glad to be on top of it.

+ Make needed edits to my latest resume - Yes!

+ Create a website for my dad’s company - Created, yes. Finished, no.

+ Make a dentist appointment (she typed with dismay) - I gave this one a valiant effort. I tell you, Columbus is not an easy place to make healthcare appointments! I should be hearing back from the office I want to go to today. (Side eye emoji.)

+ Tour 3 wedding venues (for me and for an upcoming post!) - Because of Zach's schedule, we only toured one, but it was awesome! Will be seeing several more this week.

+ Start nailing down summer design work - Work in progress. Keeping this on the list.

 

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+ GET THREE DAYS AHEAD OF BLOGGING SCHEDULE! (If I can't get this done this week, so help me, I have no control over my own life.)

+ Tour more wedding venues

+ Apply for summer design work (at least 1 daily)

+ Apply for my dream job (This is definitely a fear for me to conquer. I keep putting it off for the perfect moment but now is the time!)

+ Instagram TWICE daily! (#goals, right?)

+ Work on monthly illustration series

+Finish my dad's website

+ Work on blog makeover

 

What are some things you're working on this week? And for all you brilliant bloggers, how the heck do you get ahead of schedule?! I feel like Jessie Spano- there's never any time! Share your wisdom with me!

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Weekly Wishes #10: 5 Ways to Get Stuff Done (when all you really want to do is watch Netflix)

Whether you work in an office or from the comfort of your sofa, I'm sure you have days when tackling your to-do list just seems impossible. I know I do. Sometimes I feel so stressed out that I can't seem to have even one uninterrupted thought. Sometimes there are so many things on my plate needing to be done that I don't know where to start. And sometimes I'm just in a total funk and can't focus or find any motivation.

In general, I am a supporter of taking a break when you truly need it. I mean, if you've been banging your head against a wall over the same problem and there's no end in sight, by all means, give yourself a day. But the majority of the time, the overwhelmed/overly distracted mindset is something that can be overcome.

Here are a few of the tactics I use when I'm feeling the brain fog but really need to focus:

 

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This one is a two-parter. First, it's important to start your day off on the best foot possible. For me this generally means having my workout done and having gotten ready, even if that just means some mascara and real pants and shoes. (Side note: for those of you that work from home, it's amazing how much simply having on shoes can put you into full work-mode.) Then I aim to get my most important, time-sensitive task done before even glancing at my email. If that's not an option, I would recommend skimming your mail, answering anything urgent and then getting it out of sight as much as your job allows (same goes for social media and other apps).

Part two is just committing to starting all projects that are on your plate that day. Starting is always the hardest part and I often find that once I've gotten over that mental road block, the task can be completed much faster and easier than I had anticipated.

 

Weekly-Wishes-10-5-Ways-to-Get-Stuff-Done-2-Set-the-Mood

A coffee cup that makes you happy. The perfect playlist. A pretty candle (these scents are the best for productivity- and yes, that exists). Anything that can help you to create a happy feeling in your work space will be good for your end product.

My perfect day at my desk involves either an iced coffee or Diet Coke, a really beautiful planner, and Spotify (I find I work too slowly when Hulu is on in the background, but I like to reserve it as a treat on more relaxed days). Spotify is my favorite music source because of the option to select pre-made playlists by mood. It's amazing what an uplifting playlist can do on a sluggish day and what a mellow mix can do for a chaotic day. It's all about balance and harmony here.

 

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It can be hard as a creative to commit to a system. The worry is there that it might interrupt or impede your "greatest idea ever," but I cannot function without my systems and I find that the more structure I implement in my creative life, the more productive I am by far.

I'm a total paper person and like to physically write notes so I use a monthly calendar for my blog schedule/design projects/business schedule, a weekly/daily agenda for my workout schedule/meetings/specific tasks, and then use a notebook for notes/details/ideas on each task as I'm working on it. If you like to be more a part of this century, here are some top apps for productivity and organization.

And speaking of productivity, I recently discovered the Rule of 52 and 17 and so far I find it really helpful. A study by The Muse found that the most productive 10% of their workers followed a ratio of 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of restorative break time. At first I thought, why not 50/10? But the beauty of the specific 52/17 is it really forces you to use a timer, like this one here, and thus focus solely on the work. The act of actually getting out of my office chair and resting for a full 17 minutes seemed extreme to me at first, but it has really been forcing me to sprint work through that 52 minutes (plus it's great for your body to have that chair break).

Overall point: have a plan and stick to it. Eventually your effective system will become comforting and make straying from schedule at every whim seem much less appealing.

 

Weekly-Wishes-10-5-Ways-to-Get-Stuff-Done-4-Change-it-Up-Get-Physical

I mainly work from home, which is a great blessing, but sometimes the sight of my own walls make me want to barf all over my newly minted to-do list. On those days I head to a local coffee shop or bookstore and, amidst the new sights and sounds, find myself instantly refocused.

When I'm really stuck I find that hitting pause and focusing on anything physical almost always leads to a break through. A good walk (or run, for you crazy people) can solve almost any problem. Plus, there's a head-clearing bonus if you can do so in a beautiful environment, really focusing on the moment and taking in your surroundings.

But if the thought of exercise makes you cringe, you can get the same benefits from anything that involves focus and movement. Have a dance party, do the dishes, browse a thrift shop- anything that will force you to focus on your senses and your movements will help you hit a mental refresh.

 

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If you truly can't find the motivation or focus to tackle a task, find a trusted ally and give them a (quick) rundown of your situation. How many times have you heard yourself talking and then mid sentence found your answer? Sometimes hearing your thoughts out loud is all you need to get the ball rolling.

And if that's not the case, a new set of eyes and ears might be able to pinpoint in seconds something you've been overlooking all afternoon. A new perspective can give you a fresh idea and a whole new energy towards your project.

 

What are your best methods for staying focused and being productive? Share your wisdom with us in the comments!

 

And while we're on the topic of to-do lists, here are some of my hits and misses from last week's goals, as part of Nectar Collective's Weekly Wishes linkup...

 

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+ Decide on a color palette and inspiration for office makeover - Done and done!

+ Pick up my March reads - Done (although I haven't cracked them open yet).

+ Catch up on the Blogilates workout schedule - YES! And best news ever: after weeks and weeks and weeks of feeling like some of it was pure torture, I finally hit that mark where it feels good! Hallelujah!

+ Post on Instagram everyday - Worst fail ever. I have been a total ghost in the social media world.

+ Officially schedule meetups - This one proved a little harder than anticipated so is still a work in progress.

+ PAINT! - Yes and also a work in progress...

 

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+ Taking another stab at posting to Instagram daily and scheduling my meetups

+ Get 3 days ahead of blogging schedule (a long-awaited dream I have yet to make reality)

+ Nail down theme, acquire wardrobe, and book venue for an upcoming shoot I'm styling

+ Make needed edits to my latest resume

+ Create a website for my dad's company

+ Make a dentist appointment (she typed with dismay)

+ Tour 3 wedding venues (for me and for an upcoming post!)

+ Start nailing down summer design work

+ Keep painting!

 

What's on your goal list this week?

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Weekly Wishes #9: March Kickoff

I am becoming a serious broken record with this one, but I have been sick AGAIN this week. The third bout of illness since the New Year's, and I'm not talking the sniffles here. I'm talking knock me on my butt for days sicknesses. It all started when I visited my family in Dayton this past weekend. Both my big sis and our cousin's daughter had birthdays to celebrate so we all got together and had a joint party at one of our favorite local restaurants. And they both conveniently matched their cake...

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And then as seems to be the trend when visiting my sister, these two little ones generously shared their germs with me and I have again been out of commission for the majority of the week. Who would ever think such cute little things could cause so much misery?

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I'm starting to think when I have children of my own, I'll have to hire a live-in nurse just for myself.

But lateness and productivity pitfalls aside, I'm excited as always for a new month and setting out some clear goals. Last month I experimented a little with giving myself some slack in the to-do list department and it paid off in some surprising ways. I got so many cleaning projects done and therefore prevented a chaos-induced nervous breakdown, but now I'm really ready to get back into a more structured schedule. And for me, that always starts with setting goals!

 

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+ start office redesign (this one's been on my list for a looong time)

+ read at least 3 books (my list so far: Make It Happen, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, and An American Tragedy from my All-Time 100 Novels list)

+ do the Blogilates March Workout Schedule and 30 Day Thigh Slimming Challenge (I'm already behind on this from being sick but it is crucial to how I feel so I'm hoping to catch up quickly!)

+ Post on Instagram daily (a continued goal- this is by far my favorite social media platform but I have a hard time being a regular presence on it myself)

+ paint a watercolor series (this was originally part of my New Year's goals and I've yet to do it so I'm hoping the third month's the charm!)

+ implement an entirely new blog theme (yay!)

+ plan (and hopefully hold) the two meet-ups I've been in the process of planning (more on those to come)

 

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+ decide on a color palette and inspiration for office makeover

+ pick up my March reads

+ catch up on the Blogilates workout schedule

+ Post on Instagram everyday (again playing catch up here)

+ officially schedule meetups

+ PAINT!

 

Do you have any goals you want to tackle this month? Share them in the comments so I can root for you!

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Weekly Wishes #8: Be. Do. Have.

I'll be real honest here, I didn't really have time to post today. But even though it's starting to get late, I'm sitting here typing at the speed of light because I really wanted to share with you something that has stuck with me all weekend. I was listening to a webinar by the beautiful genius, Hilary Rushford. If you aren't familiar with her work at Dean Street Society, you might still recognize her name because I talk about her, oh, pretty much every week. I'm basically obsessed with her and I pretend she's my life coach in a world where your life coach has never met you and doesn't know you exist.

Anyway, this was a webinar about How to Get Paid to be Creative, and if you're someone who is at all interested in this topic, I totally recommend it. I loved it and as I was frantically taking notes, one specific notion really stopped me in my tracks.

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It's such a simple concept, but if we take some time to really consider it, it can also be pretty life changing. I think a majority of the time, we think in terms of Do - Have - Be. If I lose weight (do) then I'll have a perfect body (have) and then I can finally have some confidence (be). Or when I move (do) into my massive dream home (have) then I can finally consider myself a success (be). And the problem with this sequence of events is that we are denying ourselves the have part- in these scenarios confidence and a feeling of success- until we've "measured up."

If you think about the last thing you really wanted, the last big change you wanted to make, I wonder if this Do - Have - Be thinking got in your way? 

I know it certainly has for me in the past. Fashion is a hard world to go into feeling imperfect. I spent a lot of wasted time in my 20s thinking, 'Once my body is how I want it to be and I have a really amazing wardrobe, then my career will really take off.' But guess what? I never got any of those things and I probably never will. So I really had to face the facts: I could just go for it with all of my flaws or wait until I'm "perfect" and therefore face the very real possibility that I will never even get a chance.

This was so real for me when I had just started blogging. I got tickets to an event and I had to walk up to designers/vendors, etc. and say "Hi! I'm a local blogger, would you mind if I take a picture of your work?" And, you guys, it took me so long to actually go up to anyone and do that really simple task. I just felt like a total fraud. And really I kind of was. I was "a local blogger" because I lived nearby and had created my own website that week. And looking back it was so silly to feel nervous about, because my "fake it til you make it" behavior was actually a very valid and necessary step in the process. Sometimes you have to do things that seem backwards to get where you want to go.

If you decided today to BE that person in your head that you envision, what would you DO differently this week and how much confidence/happiness could you HAVE? 

I know for me personally, this message is a big one. I'm a perfectionist and I always feel like I'm not quite ready to be the person I want to be. I'm not perfect enough yet.

So this week I'm not setting any benchmark goals outside of my to-do list, and instead I'm just going to focus on the BE part of the equation. For me that's considering myself a "Creative Professional" and an "Artist." Those terms always feel funny to me, like I need to have a gallery showing or give a lecture at a college before I can claim either of these titles, but this week I'm going to try and not care. Everyone has to start somewhere, right? So between you and me, this week I am a total professional artist. ;)

What is something you are holding yourself back from because of fear or the feeling that you're not worthy? And better yet, who are you going to BE this week?

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Weekly Wishes #6: All About that Mindset

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(Speaking of this song, is anyone else still sad about the end of Parenthood? Oh man, such a good show!)

 

Last week I spent the majority of my time being a complete hermit. Single digit weather will really do that to a person (holler if you hear me, Midwest). But it turned out to be such a blessing because I got some very necessary cleaning done. Things that I've been putting off forever, like finding places for the contents of a couple of problematic unpacked boxes from moving a year and a half ago (I know, shame). I also organized a few storage spaces and moved the living room furniture. I still have a couple of things to do (hello, craft closet!) but I'm off to a pretty good start.

It really flipped a switch for me because I realized that with fewer things on my to-do list, I was actually able to accomplish things with which I had been really struggling. I mean, So many weeks' to-do lists had seen those exact same tasks and it was like as soon as I took them off and gave myself some freedom, poof! I finally found my motivation. I'm definitely going to keep this theory in mind over the next couple of weeks, mainly that scheduled leisure/self-care actually promotes productivity. Plus, with a new clutter-free state of mind, I'm hoping to finally get a kick start on some of the swarms of creative projects flying around in my head.

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And speaking of my head, it's totally loving my new frames from DiscountGlasses.com! Have you entered the giveaway yet? If not, hop on over to my Instagram account to enter by this Friday!

 

I'm linking up again as part of Weekly Wishes, a personal goal setting community where you can share your upcoming dreams and hold yourself accountable to achieve them. Join in at The Nectar Collective or just share your goals in the comments!

 

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1. Continue my efforts from last week: sticking to the Blogilates workout calendar, painting daily, and taking time for myself to help figure out my end goal (progress is coming along nicely with this one, by the way. Hopefully I can share more soon.)

2. Finish my cleaning goals, which are basically to finish deep cleaning and reorganizing my whole apartment.

3. Get dressed! Silly I know, but some of you who work from home or are stay-at-home moms can probably relate- I look horrible 90% of all the time. And I believe, no matter how enticing it is, that feeling sloppy is very bad for the spirit. And apparently wearing actual pants and shoes helps to increase productivity. Who knew? Okay everyone did, but the struggle is real here. I'm giving myself one more glorious sweatpants and slippers day (hey, it is a holiday after all), and then I'm forcing myself to get up and get ready before I start working the rest of the week. If you need some motivation with the same problem, I think the Dean Street Society style challenge is pretty helpful to get you thinking outside of your wardrobe box. I also am going to try these Easy Ways to Update your Look This Week from The Zoe Report. I am currently sporting today's hybrid pony and NOT pulling it off, haha, so here's hoping the rest of the week goes better!

 

So you can see, this week is still very light as far as "goals" go, but I'm hoping that continuing last week's trend will help me tackle the bigger things anyway.

What's your take on my less is more approach to goals? Am I on a radical new path to genius or about to crash and burn? Share your insight (and your goals!) in the comments.

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Weekly Wishes #5: Focusing on the End Game

I hope you all had a great weekend! I spent mine in Dayton visiting my family, which was action-packed and adorable.

On Sunday I went to a baby shower for my cousin, Bailey. They had the cutest Woodland creature theme and they really went to town with the Pinterest-inspired food spread.

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Forgive my horrible phone pictures, but isn't this adorable? And it's only a tiny portion of what they put together. I should have gotten a picture of the mom-to-be, because she really topped the cuteness charts. However, I ate some of the best cheese ball in the world and subsequently forgot all memory-capturing duties.

After the shower I met up with Zach's mom and lil sis to get her first ever head shots. If you can tell by her long limbs, she's looking to get into modeling.

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Oh boy, will I be in trouble when she's actually booking jobs because I almost cried a dozen times during the photo session. I've known this girl since she was in a car seat and I just felt so proud of her.

Overall it was a very sentimental weekend.

And this morning, I came across an Instagram post that I just loved from @thetiffanyhan (which by the way is my new favorite account to follow)...

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Mom, I'm sorry that this has a four-letter word in it ;) but the message is so right on. And it's setting the tone for me this week. I've always believed I had some talent and a lot of potential, but between my endless number of jobs and degrees in three different majors, finding the direction required to channel my skill set has never been my strongest suit. I actually started this blog as kind of a "just do it" time in my life where I didn't want to keep waiting for the "right" creative path and actually just commit to heading down one.

And the thing is, a year and a half later, I have such a stronger vision for myself. (Side note: if you're feeling lost in life, try blogging or at least journaling. You will figure out so much about yourself.) So now I have some pretty good ideas of what I want out of life, but I still don't have a specific, detailed end goal.

So this week I'm reversing my thinking. Instead of just go, go, go-ing and seeing where I end up, I'm a little more interested in the mental care and the time for reflection that is required to discover said end goal.

So I only have three to-do's this week and they are all focused on personal well-being...

 

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1. Keep up with the Blogilates workout schedule. (I am loving the way it's making me feel!)

2. Read/paint every day. Preferably both but let's not get too crazy here.

3. Take time each day to connect with my own self and really figure out my specific future goals.

 

But most importantly, I want to hear about you! What's making your list this week? Join in on the link up at The Nectar Collective or just share in the comments and let's crush goals together!

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Weekly Wishes #2: Rooting for the Underdog

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The Ohio State University means a lot to me. I earned both of my degrees from OSU. I worked for three years in the Theatre Department Costume Studio, where I discovered my talents and my passion. I've trudged through the Oval during the winter and eaten my lunch at Mirror Lake in the spring. I've experienced the overwhelming feeling of seeing thousands of people yelling the same cheers at the Horseshoe on game day.

Zach got the bracelet above for me several years ago when we were both Buckeyes and I've worn it on countless Saturdays since. I'll be wearing it again tonight as I watch the Buckeyes take on Oregon in the National Championship game. Now for those of you who don't follow sports, especially not college-level American football, don't start skimming yet because this is a pretty good story and I'll try to make it brief.

It's hard to call Ohio State the underdog- it's not exactly the first Championship game we've seen- but the truth is we just barely squeaked into the playoffs this season after winning the Big Ten title game and narrowly earning our number four ranking. After Ohio State lost not one, but two Quarterbacks this season to injury, 3rd-string QB Cardale Jones, went into the playoffs, only his second game as a starter in his college career, against the number one seed, Alabama. Here are a few of the opinions that were being thrown around about him before that game (from bleacherreport.com)...

"Cardale Jones will be maimed. Cardale Jones' head will spin. Cardale Jones isn't scrappy enough, and he hasn't seen pressure. Cardale Jones isn't a precise thrower. Cardale Jones won't process the changing looks of a defense and get his team in the right play.

The apocalypse is coming for Cardale Jones."

And then he won. And there's a chance he might win again tonight and take home the National Championship title. It's amazing to think about, isn't it? A college kid thrown into a situation with that much pressure and then coming out on top. And in just a couple of hours, he'll be facing that pressure multiplied.

It's gotten me thinking a lot about the classic underdog story. It's like we're all born to root for the underdog, likely because we recognize ourselves in them. We see their flaws and the uphill battle that they're facing and we hope they overcome them, because it's a bit of encouragement that we can, too.

And so this week, for my weekly wishes linkup, I'm focusing on goals that really present a struggle for me. Things that are kind of a daily battle for me to change. I've been trying really hard to organize my life and schedule this year as well as get healthier. It may not seem hard to most, but I'm pretty sure my biggest fear in life is boredom. The misery of standing still and feeling trapped. I need change, like all the time. So while I know that having a regular sleep schedule and diet/exercise plan would help me so much as far as production and overall happiness, I can never actually accomplish the task 100%. I seem hard-wired to reject its unchanging nature.

But let's get real, if a college sophomore can face the pressure of the nation tonight, I can at least make myself go to bed at a human hour and get my workouts in, right? That's what I'm focusing on this week when I undoubtedly start to feel miserably chained to my schedule. And hopefully I will muscle through. Here are my goals as well as a little recap from last week...

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1. Update my social media accounts (also, figure out what in the world people do on Google+)
Done, done, and done! (Although still unsure about Google+)
2. Clean out our closets to donate
I have done some of this, but overall it's still a mission and work in progress...
3. Kick off the Great Blog Update of 2015! (starting with cleaning up/fixing the sidebar)
I spent a very frustrating amount of time changing by social media icons. I also added the new bio pic and a Pinterest collage. So overall, not a total Betty, but a vast improvement. :)

 

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 1. Wake up and get moving! I want to wake up at 7 am everyday and have my workouts done by 10 am at the latest. (Honestly, this scares me so wish me luck!)
2. Plan ahead! Get 3 days ahead of myself on my blogging calendar and start scheduling social media posts.
3. Get social! I want to start a meetup group with old friends to help us stay in touch as well as a Mastermind group of local creatives, so I need to make plans and get both off the ground this week.
4. Continue the Great Blog Update of 2015! This week I am taking on my header, tackling the strange re-sizing issue I have with the site name, and reorganizing the categories- all long overdue.

 

Notice all the exclamation marks this week? That's because I'm trying to trick myself into thinking all these task will be fun and exciting. Oh, and a sidenote to anyone following along and thinking about taking part, here's how this week went for me: I did absolutely nothing towards my goals until Saturday night, when I realized, oh crap, I've got to get cracking on these goals. And then I did (for the most part) because the public declaration really holds you to a goal. So if you need a push, Join the linkup here or just share your goals in the comments!. You'll be amazed at how much more likely you will be to get it done when you've made it public.

 

And going along with the underdog theme of the week, what's one goal you always have that you never can quite seem to accomplish? Share in the comments, if you dare, and let's start tackling our fears together!

 

Go Bucks!
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Weekly Wishes #1: Goals on Goals on Goals

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image via Pinterest, art available here

I have been talking about/blogging about/obssessing over resolutions lately, but just last night I realized I might not necessarily be using the term correctly. I consider myself a lover of the resolution, but in reality I am a lover of GOALS. Is there a difference? Maybe not. But the difference in my mind is the creation of a tangible action plan towards changing your life. Example: I will do said activity x amount of times per an established timeline to reach my clearly defined goal. This is what I'm working hard on in my life right now.

As I'm sure many of you can relate, I am an EXCELLENT starter of life-changing plans, but my success rate declines drastically when it comes to finishing/accomplishing all my plans. And if you're in that boat, I actually think it's a fine place to be. Sometimes you have to jump head first into things to find out they're not for you, and every time you do so you're getting closer and closer to what actually is. And the beauty of that is eventually you will have a really strong idea of who you are and what works for you. But for me, at my particular stage in life, I know what I want (for the most part) and what I need to do and now it's simply time to get my butt in gear!

I wanted to share my goals for 2015 with you and, as a whole, I really recommend sharing your goals in some public manner. It can be a little scary, but it makes them feel so much more real. It's potentially a little embarrassing knowing that you will likely fail at least a little and everyone will know, but who cares? I think failure is awesome and crucial to a well-lived life! And hey, stay tuned for this time next year when I get to share with you all of my inevitable failures. :)

 

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I'm really excited to start taking part in The Nectar Collective's Weekly Wishes linkup...

The Nectar Collective

... because I know reaching your bigger goals can only be possible when you are working towards them consistently. It takes a lot of chipping away at the marble before the sculpture can be revealed. So with that in mind, here's what I'm working on...

 

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1. Update my social media accounts (also, figure out what in the world people do on Google+)
2. Clean out our closets to donate for the Alternative Fashion Mob clothing swap (message me if you are local and would like more info)
3. Kick off the Great Blog Update of 2015! (starting with cleaning up/fixing the sidebar)
And if you're also making some changes this year (or you just love a good to-do list), feel free to share your weekly goals with me in the comments. I'll be doing this every Monday- let's kick our goals in the butt together! :)

 

Until next time!
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